Aztec ladies come up short at Final Four - Tucson News Now

Aztec ladies come up short at Final Four


The Pima Community College women’s basketball team (27-8) were in a fast-paced battle in its NJCAA Division II semifinals match-up against Illinois Central College.

The No. 3 seeded Aztecs faced a double digit deficit early but closed the gap in the fourth quarter. In the end, they fell 77-74 to the No. 2 seeded Cougars.

Down 59-47 with 8:23 left in the game, the Aztecs went on a 16-6 run in the next five minutes to cut it to 64-63 but the Cougars scored the next two baskets to regain a five-point advantage.

Later, the Aztecs trailed 70-65 with 1:47 left, Denesia Smith (Cienega HS) missed a layup and the Cougars hit two free throws. Smith got a steal a few possessions later and sophomore Taylor Blue (Peoria HS) hit two free throws to make it 72-69 with 1:00 left. The Aztecs couldn’t close the gap by less than three points the rest of the game.

The Cougars went 3 for 4 from the line on their next two trips to make it 75-69. Freshman Sydni Stallworth (Palo Verde HS) scored a quick basket to make it 75-71 but the Aztecs were forced to foul and the Cougars converted. Sophomore Gabby Banales (Cienega HS) hit a three-pointer as time expired.

The Aztecs trailed by one point at 16-15 in a back-and-forth first quarter. Blue put the Aztecs ahead with a basket but the Cougars went on a 7-0 run to take a 23-17 lead. The Aztecs tied it with a 6-0 run which was capped off by Blue’s two free throws to make it 23-23. From there, Illinois Central closed out the first half with an 11-4 run to put the Aztecs in a 36-27 hole at halftime. Blue had eight points and eight rebounds as the Aztecs collected 10 offensive rebounds but had 11 turnovers in the first half.

The Aztecs outrebounded the Cougars 53-42 and grabbed 22 offensive rebounds. Blue scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds; including nine offensive boards. Stallworth also had a double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds. She also had three steals. Smith had 10 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals.

The Aztecs will play in the third place game on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. (3:00 p.m. Tucson time) against #1 seed Monroe College (31-1). 

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